INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – What began as a friendly joke quickly turned into a month long autograph battle between Team Penske drivers Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden.
First they signed each other's houses in North Carolina. Then Pagenaud autographed Newgarden’s firesuits, racing shoes, helmet visor and even his mother's arm.
Newgarden responded by signing Pagenaud’s IndyCar and the commemorative street sign bearing Pagenaud’s name in downtown Indianapolis.
Pagenaud even signed the large Newgarden banner hanging from the back of an Indianapolis Motor Speedway grandstand early this month.
Newgarden’s next move was to sign the windows on Pagenaud’s motorcoach parked inside the track.
Pagenaud went the extra mile, coordinating a stunt move with Indianapolis police officers to pull over Newgarden as he left the track.
Wih cameras in position, Pagenaud rode in the passenger seat as an IMPD officer stopped Newgarden for a silly traffic citation with his name signed at the bottom.
“Super proud of that one,” Pagenaud said with a grin. “It took a lot of organization to get this done. I felt like a kid at Christmas, to be honest with you. It was the first time I rode in a cop car, luckily – in a good seat, too. Sirens were going off, the lights were up, there were two cars chasing Josef. He did not expect that at all, he had no idea.
Unable to top the stunt, Newgarden surrendered.
“Simon and I had a great back and forth for a month or two, but it’s got to come to an end at some point,” Newgarden said. “Someone’s got to win it, so I think Simon’s your winner. We had a ton of fun, we had a lot of laughs. But at the end of the day, someone’s got to win.”